Peanut butter was first invented by Dr. John Kellogg (yes, the same guy who started Kellogg’s Cereal) in 1895.
Before then, a ground peanut “mash” was often recommended to seniors who couldn’t chew hardened foods or eat meat. These are cool facts about peanut butter, but the real question remains… Is peanut butter vegan?
Peanut butter, by itself, is always vegan. At its most basic, peanut butter contains just two ingredients; ground peanuts and salt. While commercial peanut butter brands may add additional oil and sugar to their final product, most of the time, these additives are vegan-friendly.
Today’s post is going to be all about peanut butter. As a self-proclaimed peanut butter “nut,” I was incredibly grateful that I didn’t have to give up peanut butter after going vegan.
I’ll start by answering a few of the most commonly asked questions about peanut butter and then I’ll show you why peanut butter is so healthy.
I’ll also show you a brief list of non-vegan peanut butter additives that you should watch out for. Let’s go nuts!
Are Peanuts Vegan?
Peanuts are small nuts that grow inside the pods of peanut trees. They’ve been traditionally grown throughout South America and Mexico for hundreds of years, long before colonization.
The West first discovered peanuts thanks to Spanish conquistadors, who sent peanuts back to Europe. Now, they’re widely available and grown around the world.
By themselves, peanuts are 100% plant-based and vegan.
The problem comes when they’re seasoned with non-vegan seasonings or used in non-vegan foods. For example, honey-roasted peanuts are NOT vegan as they contain bee-derived honey.
The same goes for ranch-flavored peanuts, which contain dairy by-products. Certain meat dishes that use peanuts or peanut oil are also non-vegan.
If you’re just eating some roasted or lightly salted peanuts, though, you should have nothing to worry about!
To learn more about peanuts and the history of peanut butter, check out this cool mini-documentary, courtesy of the National Peanut Board:
Is Peanut Butter Dairy-Free?
One of the best attributes of peanut butter is its inherent creaminess. There’s nothing like a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth peanut butter sandwich when you’re starving at lunch.
Peanut butter is (and always has been) 100% dairy-free.
Although dairy is commonly added to foods to make them creamier, peanut butter’s natural creaminess is the result of natural peanut oils and added vegetable oil.
So whether you’re vegan or just lactose-intolerant, you’ll have no issues with peanut butter.
That being said, there are a number of dairy-containing peanut butter snacks on the market, such as:
- Peanut butter cookies made with dairy
- Peanut butter parfaits (yogurt is a dairy product)
- Peanut butter ice cream
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Most candy that contains peanut butter
Just remember, while peanut butter is dairy-free, many peanut butter-containing foods are not.
Watch Out For These Non-Vegan Peanut Butter Additives
As I mentioned, plain peanut butter is simple and consists of a few simple, all-natural ingredients.
That being said, some of the sweeteners used in peanut butter aren’t so vegan-friendly. Here are the two non-vegan peanut butter additives that you should be on the lookout for.
One of the most common peanut butter additives is honey. While honey is an all-natural sweetener, it’s obtained through the exploitation of bee colonies. This makes it a no-go for vegans.
Honey would be all fine and good if it was responsibly obtained. However, to produce honey, bee farms directly exploit bees. The bees labor all year to collect nectar and create honey.
The honey is intended to feed the colony’s larvae and help the adult bees survive through the winter when outside food sources are scarce. When farms take the honey, a portion of the bee larvae and adult bees will inevitably die off due to a lack of food.
Many bee farms try to make up for this by offering sugar water to the bees to consume during the winter. However, bee biology isn’t designed to efficiently process sugar. So, while it provides short-term sustenance and energy, it can’t keep a bee colony alive for very long.
These are the main reasons why vegans don’t consume honey, honeycomb, or beeswax.
Refined Sugar & Molasses
Almost all sugar comes from sugarcane or beets. Natural, raw sugar has a brown or slightly red tint to it (if it came from beets). Raw brown sugar like this is completely natural and vegan-friendly.
Unfortunately, the filtration process used to create refined white sugar is not vegan. To turn brown sugar into white sugar, the raw sugar is filtered through animal bone char (a by-product of the meat industry).
Molasses is another common non-vegan additive. Most commercially-produced molasses is made from white sugar that’s been mixed down with brown sugar syrup. It still contains white sugar, making it a non-vegan sweetener.
That being said, unrefined molasses (often called “blackstrap molasses”) is vegan-friendly. Blackstrap molasses is made using only unprocessed brown demerara sugar and doesn’t go through any animal-based filtration.
Is Peanut Butter Healthy?
One of the reasons why people have consumed peanuts and peanut butter for hundreds of years is due to the plant’s many health benefits. Here’s a quick visual outlining some of the key health benefits of peanut butter:
|Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter
|Why You Need It
|Contains vitamin E
|Vitamin E is great for your skin, hair, and nails, helping them grow stronger and faster. It’s also essential for your reproductive system and helps your body maintain a healthy hormone balance.
|Contains vitamins B3 and B6
|Both vitamins B3 and B6 are essential for our metabolism. They help our body convert food into energy and evenly distribute it throughout the body. Vitamin B6 is also essential for healthy brain development and maintenance!
|Manganese is essential for bodily growth, development, and healing. It helps our bodies form ligaments, repair blood clots, and contributes to healthy bones. Manganese is also great for keeping sex hormones at healthy levels! To learn more about manganese and other essential minerals your body needs, be sure to check out my latest post on vegan trace minerals.
|Omega-6 fatty acids support a healthy brain. They can help children’s brains develop quickly and can help maintain a healthy adult brain.
|Contains coumaric acid
|Coumaric acid is a powerful antioxidant found in peanuts. Antioxidants are best-known for their anti-aging properties but are also associated with a strong immune system. When peanuts are roasted before being turned into peanut butter, the coumaric acid is activated and becomes more bioavailable. This makes it easier for our bodies to absorb!
What’s The Healthiest Vegan Peanut Butter?
The healthiest peanut butter is raw, all-natural peanut butter that’s made without any additives.
Many health foods stores feature stations that allow you to grind your own peanuts and make your own homemade peanut butter. You can eat this peanut butter as is or add salt to it after its ground.
Is Skippy Peanut Butter Vegan?
While all-natural hand-ground peanut butter is, by far, the healthiest, it can also be a bit expensive. Sometimes, you can’t beat the $3 price tag on a jar of good old-fashioned Skippy Peanut Butter…
Thankfully, most varieties of Skippy Peanut Butter are vegan! Just be sure to avoid the Skippy Peanut Butter with added honey.
As long as it doesn’t contain any non-vegan additives like honey or refined white sugar, most peanut butter is 100% all-natural and vegan-friendly. Although peanut butter has a number of health benefits, it’s still very high in calories and should only be consumed in small, measured amounts.
One of the healthiest (and most filling) vegan snacks I eat is peanut butter sandwiches.
If you want to make them extra-delicious, you can even top the peanut butter with banana slices. If you want to make the best vegan peanut butter sandwich, be sure to check out my favorite vegan bread next!